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Mystery virus in China isn’t SARS, officials say, so what is it? – Global News

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The mysterious respiratory illness that has infected dozens of people in a central Chinese city is not SARS, local authorities said Sunday.

The 2002-2003 SARS epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Fears of a SARS recurrence arose this month after a slate of patients were hospitalized with an unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

As of Sunday, 59 people were diagnosed with the condition and have been isolated while they receive treatment, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. Seven were in critical condition, while the rest were stable.


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The commission said in a statement that initial investigations have ruled out SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — as well as Middle East respiratory syndrome, influenza, bird flu and adenovirus.

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The commission previously said the condition’s most common symptom was fever, with shortness of breath and lung infections appearing in a “small number” of cases. There were no clear indications of human-to-human transmission.

Several patients were working at the South China Seafood City food market in sprawling Wuhan’s suburbs. The commission said the market would be suspended and investigated.






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More cases of influenza B diagnosed, putting kids at risk


More cases of influenza B diagnosed, putting kids at risk

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said Sunday that a total of 15 patients in Hong Kong were being treated for symptoms including fever and respiratory infection after recent visits to Wuhan.


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Hospitals and doctors have been directed to report cases of fever in anyone who has traveled to Wuhan in the past 14 days, Hong Kong’s health chief, Sophia Chan, said Sunday.

The hospital authority said it has activated a “serious response” level to curb spread of the infection. Chan warned Hong Kong residents against visiting wet markets and eating wild game in mainland China.

The World Health Organization said it was closely monitoring the situation and maintaining contact with Chinese authorities. No travel or trade restrictions are necessary at this time, the WHO said. Travellers who experience respiratory problems should seek medical attention as they normally would, and provide their travel history to their health care provider.

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Parkview Place to test all residents as more than 40% now infected with COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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The for-profit company that owns Parkview Place is ramping up efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by bringing in new staff and paying to have every resident tested. 

This comes after Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) staff entered the residence last weekend for the first time since March and found numerous deficiencies including lack of cleaning, lack of staff knowledge of outbreak protocols and the need for more medical and clinical staff.

Ninety-seven of the home’s 221 residents — 44 per cent — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began on Sept. 15, based on Parkview’s most recent occupancy figures. 

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 17 reported deaths at Parkview.

Revera says it engaged Dynacare on Friday to test all residents at Parkview Place as part of a pilot project in order to accelerate the testing process and inform efforts to cohort and isolate residents.

Dynacare is the same private lab that’s analyzing some of the swabs for the provincial COVID-19 testing program. 

“We appreciate the support of the WRHA in approving this Revera-funded solution to accelerate testing of our residents,” said Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera’s chief medical officer who is registered to practice in Ontario. 

Collins said more than 200 residents have been tested to date.

Twenty-six staff members have also tested positive, which is straining Parkview’s ability to deliver resident care.

Call for all staff to be tested

Revera says it is advocating for all-staff surveillance testing in all jurisdictions where it operates over the world.

“In areas of high community spread, this can be a valuable tool in helping us identify asymptomatic carriers early,” said Collins in a written statement.

Collins noted surveillance testing for all long-term care employees initiated by the Government of Ontario this summer identified numerous asymptomatic staff who, had they not been tested, would have unwittingly spread the virus. 

Asymptomatic health care providers are not routinely tested for COVID-19 in Manitoba but they may be offered testing if they have been exposed to a case according to a Health Department spokesperson. 

“Public health has continually revisited its advice on testing as the science develops, especially for vulnerable populations,”  said the spokesperson. “[F]uture decisions on offering asymptomatic testing for staff who have not been exposed to a case will be made based on scientific data.”

Revera said that when the WRHA visited last weekend, the evening staffing fell “short of the target” because an unspecified number of staff were self-isolating due to the virus. 

“Essential care did not suffer during those temporary shortages. All eyes and efforts remain focused on resident care and infection control,” said Collins.

She says staffing levels have stabilized at Parkview this week because some permanent staff who previously tested positive have been cleared to return to work. 

In addition to an onsite pharmacist provided by the WRHA last week, Parkview Place has:

  • added front line and management staff from other Revera locations, with WRHA approval.
  • hired new employees.
  • committed to bringing in agency staff for a number of different roles to support the home’s clinical, recreation and environmental services staff.

Parkview will be able to access staff recruited through last week’s provincial call for staff, which resulted in hiring 11 registered nurses, two health care aides,one respiratory therapist and one physiotherapist, according to a Manitoba Health Department spokesperson.

Manitoba Health did not specify how many, if any, of the new workers went to Parkview Place. Revera did not quantify the total number of staff it added. 

Dedicated on-site physician touted by health minister does not exist

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen has said there was a dedicated on-site physician at Parkview since mid-October. Revera says it does not have a full-time physician. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Revera says the WRHA is sending a dedicated full-time Nurse Practitioner to start working in-person at Parkview Place starting Monday.

This announcement comes a week after Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen repeatedly said Parkview now has an on-site physician in multiple interviews with media.

“Everyone is working very, very hard at Parkview Place. We know that we now have a dedicated physician on-site,” said Friesen in a press conference on Oct.16. He repeated the same claim twice the day before when questioned about what the province was doing to curb its deadliest outbreak to date. 

“If by ‘dedicated’ you mean full-time, then the answer is no,” wrote a spokesperson for Revera when asked if Parkview had a dedicated on-site physician 

Revera did say its local medical director, Dr. Bharat Shah, “is completing on-site rounds,” but did not specify when he restarted in-person visits after pausing them due to the pandemic. She said the role of medical director is not a full-time job.

Minister Friesen, who has not held a press conference in more than a week, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his statements.

Parkview Place located in hot zone

Collins says downtown Winnipeg has more active cases than anywhere else in Manitoba. 

“The level of community spread is a direct predictor of the potential for, and severity of, an outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care,” said Collins. 

She said staff are grieving the deaths of residents and the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for the people who work in long-term care.

“Everyone at Parkview Place is focused on providing care to residents and stopping the spread of this devastating virus,” Collins said. 

If you have a tip about personal care homes, click here to contact Jill Coubrough.

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Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 – St. Albert Today

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MONTREAL — Quebec reached more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the first province in Canada to hit the somber milestone since the pandemic began in March.

But despite remaining the country’s coronavirus epicentre, public health experts say a recent downward trend of infections is an encouraging sign.

“It’s a moment where we all sit up and say wow, 100,000 – that’s a lot of zeroes,” said Erin Strumpf, an associate professor at McGill University specialized in health economics.

“But again I think the more important thing to be paying attention to is the trend that we’ve been seeing recently in the province.”

The province reported 879 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,114 infections since the start of the pandemic.

The curve of new infections appears to have flattened over the past few weeks though, Strumpf said in an interview.

That downward trend, she said, coincides with stricter public health guidelines that aimed to stem the spread of the virus.

The government ordered the closure of bars and gyms, among other places, in hard-hit areas and advised residents to limit their contact with people who do not live in their households.

Montreal and Quebec City are among several Quebec regions that remain under the highest COVID-19 alert.

Strumpf said it is hard to pinpoint what exact measures are responsible for flattening the curve, however.

She added that she expects to see many public health restrictions remain in place moving forward. “It’s very difficult to know right now or to predict how long those closures may stay in place,” she said.

Still, the high COVID-19 infection numbers bring up painful memories for Quebecers who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

July Mak, whose 68-year-old father Paul contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care home in Montreal and died at the end of March, said the pain of her father’s death has not eased with time.

“To see these numbers this high… it blows my mind,” Mak said in an interview Sunday.

She said she wants the Quebec government to recognize that its COVID-19 data is more than just numbers — and thousands of people across the province have been directly affected.

“They mattered,” Mak said, about the thousands who have died.

On Sunday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of new infections is “stable but remains high.”

Those cases can turn into hospitalizations and deaths, Dube warned, urging Quebecers to remain vigilant to reduce transmission.

Quebec health officials also reported 11 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 6,143.

Five of those additional deaths took place in the past 24 hours, five were reported between Oct. 18-23 and one occurred at an unspecified date.

Hospitalizations went up by two across the province, for a total of 551. Of those, 97 people were in intensive care — an increase of four compared to the previous day.

The province said it conducted 25,378 COVID-19 tests on Friday, the last date for which the testing data is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press

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Sobering milestones: Quebec passes 100,000 COVID-19 mark, Ontario counts highest daily count since pandemic start – National Post

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Article content continued

The province’s recent COVID-19 numbers are more encouraging than they were last month, however, said Helene Carabin, a professor at Universite de Montreal.

The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful

Carabin said Quebec’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the virus’ ability to spread, is slowly creeping lower — a positive sign that indicates people are following public health guidelines.

“The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful,” she said in an interview.

“We’re going in the right direction, unlike what was the case in September. Now what it tells us is that probably we will continue to have to keep being very careful during the winter months for it not to creep up.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health officer, said in a statement Sunday that a “resurgence” of COVID-19 continues across the country.

Tam said there is a concern that Canada has not yet seen the full impact of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations and deaths generally lag behind case numbers.

Canada reported 215,879 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, including 9,940 deaths.

Manitoba announced 161 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and the deaths of four people — two of which were related to an outbreak at a Winnipeg long-term care home where 17 people have now died.

Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19, while officials in New Brunswick reported two new infections and two additional deaths.

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